Archive for the Literature Category

The Game of Life

Posted in Genre: Science Fiction, Literature, Mathematics on January 22, 2008 by weirleader

Game of Life (Conway)

No, not the Parker Bros. classic – I’m talking about John Conway‘s Game of Life (or here).  It’s really quite interesting, even for non-math-types (I think…  guess I’m sort of assuming there).  The great part about it is how complexity can arise from a very simple set of rules.

I’ve been familiar with this for years, but just had it on my mind (can’t recall even why) and figured I’d do a bit of advertising.

At the very least, read through the description and perhaps fiddle with the Java applet.  It’s pretty cool to mess around with, if you’ve got the time.

One literary connection – David Brin (one of my favorite sci-fi authors) actually incorporated the Game into a novel (Glory Season)…  very interesting novel, for more than the math.

Hope you enjoy it (even just a little).

More Reading

Posted in Books / Movies / TV, Education, Literature on January 9, 2008 by weirleader

I have been inspired by the Girl Detective to make more of a concerted effort to accomplish some reading this year.  Way back in high school I can recall managing approximately 50 books in a given year, but that was when my time was solely my own and I’d worked out the best plan-of-attack for accomplishing maximum homework in minimum time.  Now that I’m a parent, a teacher, as well as a student (not to mention a very sociable fellow) I find that that number is drastically reduced…  it’s actually quite depressing.  😦 Continue reading

(Bradbury) – (Boob-tube) = (Books)

Posted in Education, Genre: Science Fiction, Literature, Music, Movies & Entertainment on June 5, 2007 by weirleader

Just had a moment to peruse my favorite few blogs, and Mental Multivitamin caught my eye with a piece on Ray Bradbury.  Although I’m a big sci-fi fan, I’ve only read one of his books cover-to-cover…  perhaps I was too young, or just a bit ADD at the time, but I never became a huge fan.  Nevertheless, the book mentioned was the one I’d read – Fahrenheit 451.  Surprisingly, the claim is that the book which, to me, was quite obviously about government censorship and authoritarianism turns out to not be about that at all.  According to Bradbury, it’s about his fear that television will kill books.  Now that I’ve heard that, it does make a sort of sense…  but boy that never would have crossed my mind.

My first instinct is to say that in no way will television really do that – after all, I’d take a good book almost any day over TV.  To add proof to this, I’ve gone through 3 or 4 books in the past couple of months, as opposed to spending at most an hour or two a week watching TV…  we’ve really been weaning ourselves from TV addiction, and it’s quite the relief.  It’s pretty sad how easy it is to start scheduling your week around the shows you “must” watch.   In all honesty, we do still watch movies and series, but we only watch DVDs borrowed from the library and we watch them on our terms – when we have the time.  I didn’t include that in that one to two hours a week I mentioned earlier – but I’d claim that most TV watching is of the random “flipping-channels-just-to-see-what’s-on” variety, and that’s not us.

Anyhow, while I am in no way in danger of forsaking books for TV, it occurs to me that many of my high school students seem to already be there.  One, almost proudly, informed me the other day that he hadn’t read a book in something like three years.  I have students that get frustrated with me because I won’t put their calculator away for them – they can’t be bothered to get up and walk 15 feet to the drawer.  So there’s a piece of me that sees that kids are increasingly inclined to take the quick and easy TV over the much deeper, fulfilling, and yet time-requisite, world of books.

While thinking about what I’d put in this blog entry, I was reminded of what Pete wrote a short time ago in his article Non Sequitur – how on the back of Brenna’s book was the statement “Learn to read.  Watch TV.”  I’ve got to admit, that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
I try to be slow to see the world as going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket, but there does seem to be some sort of problem with younger generations and commitment to things that matter – whether those things be related to education, to family, to the community, or even to self-improvement.  Still, I don’t want to be too pessimistic here – I’m sure some of this is the product of my environment, teaching the already-disadvantaged students of downtown Grand Rapids.

Alas, as happens too often, it seems like I’m beginning to get on another education rant…  so I’ll cut this off right here.  Suffice it to say that I highly recommend Bradbury’s book, recommend reading in all shapes and forms, and leave you with the statement that much of what is wrong with society today is due to the fact that many “are more concerned with their rights than with their responsibilities.”

Test-Drive a Good Book Lately?

Posted in Education, Literature, Music, Movies & Entertainment on April 27, 2007 by weirleader

It’s been too long since I’ve had the leisure to read through The Mental Multi-Vitamin, but I had a few moments at lunch today and stumbled across a gem of an article on books, collecting them, reading them, purchasing vs. borrowing from the library.

Due to similar constraints in my life (that is, lack of funds for unlimited literary purchases), I’ve become quite the patron of the Lakeland Library Cooperative – borrowing loads of books, videos, and music.  Also, as I believe I mentioned back in a previous post, with an MP3-playing stereo in my truck I now have been listening to quite a few books-on-CD (VERY nice for my 30-minute-each-way commute).

But back to the point – I liked the discussion of what constitutes a “keeper” and I’d like to work on becoming more discerning of those books which join my “keeper” collection.  It also reminds me of what Pete and I talke about a while back: the ability to mark all over my books and really make them “my own”.  Of course, that last is more useful for non-fiction than fiction – but I don’t do nearly enough of it.  I still have this ingrained conditioning that says that books are never to be written in (but I’m working on it! slowly!)  😉

And the good news is that summer is on the way – and with my teacher’s schedule I stand a much better chance of getting some reading done during the warm months than the cold.  (If I can squeeze in the time around the schedule of my pesky [yet immensely enjoyable!] Master’s program).

Well, lunch is over – back to our alternative energy projects!